5226 Wedding Venue Ballroom

How to avoid a Budget Busting Reception … and still impress your friends and relatives


Time to start planning the wedding reception! If you think looking for a dress or touring wedding venues in Houston is overwhelming, wait until you start planning the reception…Having a good understanding of what you want and can afford will take away a lot of the stress. There are generally three options for an evening wedding reception; cocktail buffet, buffet dinner and seated dinner. I find that many brides initially want a seated dinner for the reception without fully understanding the three options. A seated dinner is nice in theory, but it is the most expensive option and without the right caterer, it has the most potential for disaster. Cocktail buffet and buffet dinner are more cost effective and keep your guest moving around and mingling.

Stress-Free Zone
The staff at fifty-two-twenty-six will help you make an informed decision about your reception. We offer a number of dining options to suit a range of budgets and food preferences. Our list of preferred vendors will help you plan and execute a fabulous event in the style you want – within your budget. All you need to do is have a general idea about what you want and these creative professionals will provide you with additional ideas and help you make it a reality. Tables, chairs, linens, décor, food, beverages… you can rely on their years of experience to help you remain stress-free and happy!

Cocktail Buffet (Stations)
The cocktail buffet is a great way to give your guests a variety of food options at different stations. I think many brides have the idea that their guests are not being fed “dinner”, but in actuality they are; it just does not require them to wait in one or two long lines for food (boring!). I personally would rather not eat, than wait in line. Cocktail buffets generally consist of three to four stations for guests to approach, with different dining options at each. Most guests will take a new plate and fork at each station; this is not a dinner size plate, but a slightly smaller 8” or 9” plate and a salad size fork. This keeps the lines down and guests moving around. This style is also very beneficial in reception halls that have multiple rooms for the reception. It is great to incorporate a station and seating in each space, to keep guests mingling and make use of the entire venue. This also allows for a more interesting variety in the menu options, because you are not limited to meat, starch, vegetable and salad on a dinner plate. The stations can be a mix of themes like Asian, Italian and Mexican, or something more traditional. Fifty-two-twenty-six is one of the few Houston wedding venues that has multiple rooms in which guest can mingle… including a great back studio overlooking the pool and beautiful gardens, in addition to the foyer and large studio. This is ideal setup for food stations and will help maintain a high level of energy amongst your guests.

Traditional Buffet Dinner
The buffet dinner is the more traditional buffet option that you see at most receptions. Guests will generally go to the buffet line, pick up a dinner plate and make their selections. This style is generally more limited to one type of food, usually with two meat options, but not always, either rice or potatoes, a vegetable or two, salad and bread. This is not bad, but it does tend to create a long line of guests waiting for food. The line will move even slower if there are not attendants helping serve or enough attendants replenishing the buffet.

Seated Dinner
The seated dinner is the most expensive of the three options, because it requires much more staff to execute efficiently and it requires wine service at the table. The standard seated dinner consists of three courses, generally soup or salad for the first course, the entrée and dessert which is usually the wedding cake. This really limits the options you are able to serve to your guests, unless you do a duo entrée. Choices tableside is not effective and generally cost even more because you don’t know what guests will select to eat, causing the caterer to provide extra of each selection. And don’t forget the vegetarians! Now let’s discuss the staffing issue. To be properly staffed for a seated dinner, the service charges should be 2 -3 times the cost of service for a buffet. This increase in service charges is due to the number of staff in the kitchen needed to plate for this many guests and in the dining staff to serve the food, wine and replenish water. I have seen plenty of seated dinners understaffed and dinner taking two hours instead of one and some guests not even getting all of the courses. The last this you want are hungry, unhappy guests, so it is especially important to hire an experienced caterer for this option.

Let fifty-two-twenty-six handle your catering (and leave your cares at home!)

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